What’s the best way to sell your handmade goods online?
Open your own storefront and you’re on an island. If you can’t bring in the traffic yourself you aren’t likely to make enough sales for it to pay off.
Open a store on Etsy and you’ll get lots of traffic, but you’ll also literally be one in a million. You won’t be able to customize your store to promote your brand and potential customers can easily click away, never to return (see my post about the pros and cons of using Etsy versus having a your own storefront here).
What if you could have both? Is it possible to create a customizable storefront that has the look and feel of your brand but also benefits from community traffic and social sharing?
Storenvy may be your answer.
And it’s free.
Storenvy initially launched in late 2009, and has just had a complete relaunch a few months ago that’s led to a 1000% increase in sales. Right now there are 29,000 Storenvy stores. This is an exciting moment for the company with more and more stores opening and new shoppers visiting all the time. Should you join them?
I was very pleased today to speak with Jon Crawford, founder and CEO of Storenvy, to learn in-depth about what this platform has to offer small businesses like mine. In our 28 minute conversation we talked about:
- How Storenvy differs from Etsy.
- How the social aspect of Storenvy works.
- Why Storenvy is free for sellers.
- What the experience is like for shoppers.
- Why Storenvy might be the better ecommerce choice for handmade businesses.
Here’s a little side by side comparison of the look and feel of two storefronts for the same handmade business: one on Storenvy (left) and one on Etsy (right).
Raining Sugar plush on Storenvy and on Etsy.
The abilility to customize and brand your store makes a big difference, don’t you think? And check out this Storenvy Store, The Individuality, for a sense of the the level of customization that is possible on this platform.
If you have a handmade business and you sell online, or you’re considering it, I think this interview will be relevant and interesting to you. Storenvy is a neat ecommerce option and is certainly worth some serious consideration.
Have further questions or comments about the site or our interview? Please leave a comment and either Jon or I will reply. Thank you and enjoy our talk.
Such a great interview! I absolutely love Storenvy and it was wonderful hearing first hand what Jon plans to roll out for us SE users this year! The entire admin team is just awesome and I am so excited to see their company grow and see new feature releases! Thanks for posting this interview, I’ve shared it far and wide! 🙂
Thank you so much, Cody! You were so helpful to me as I prepared for this interview.
Thank you so much for mentioning my company (The Individuality) in your blog! Great interview 🙂
You're welcome, Megean. Your Storevny shop is very beautiful! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.
Thanks for this post, id never heard of storenvy till now but it looks great. Can you think of any cons to opening both a store on etsy AND on storenvy? Or do you think you should just stick with one or the other?
This is a great question and Jon touches upon it in our talk. He suggests, and I think he's right, that online businesses shouldn't shy away from being on more than one platform. Because Storenvy is completely free, at least as it stands right now, I think it doesn't hurt to be in both places. For handmade, Etsy still gets the highest traffic and has the most comfort level for shoppers, but with Storenvy you get a truly customized, branded shop that's all your own plus the benefit of a marketplace. And now there is a way to import all of your Etsy listings into Storenvy automatically so it's simple and takes very little time to have both. Those are my thoughts, but I would welcome everyone's ideas on this topic. Anyone have two shops?
Thanks Abby, this is very interesting, I had vaguely heard of Storenvy but didn’t know it was a combo highly customizable personal shop and marketplace, which sounds like the best of both worlds and a great way to be discovered by a broader audience, including people not really aware of the handmade business world!
About that, the only drawback that came to my mind while listening, though, is that in the marketplace, a handmade item will be surrounded by cheaper mass produced ones. I know that Etsy has problems both with resellers and with people underpricing their handmade work, but perhaps more people on Etsy know what to expect (higher prices for instance) when they shop there?
I’m just thinking out loud, here, and don’t mean it as a critic, the marketplace being, in a way, a cherry on top of an already nice individual shop. I think it looks like a great product, and their business model for the future sounds like a healthy one – I wish there were more tech companies offering premium features. I would probably have paid a reasonable fee if Instagram had asked me nicely, for instance…
Oh, and when Jon started talking about hiring people, I made a bet with myself that their offices would be in San Francisco. I won ;).
You raise a great point here. As Jon points out, Storenvy is not a handmade marketplace per se. It is simply a way to easily make a unique online storefront. There are sellers on Storenvy who are having goods manufactured overseas and that's completely in keeping with the company's mission, whereas Etsy's aims to sell handmade, vintage, and supplies. I wonder how that mix strikes buyers who are browsing the marketplace. I'd love to hear from someone who frequents the Storenvy marketplace who could tell use what it feels like to see handmade plush, for example, in among factory made stuffed animals. I'll take a look myself to see what I think, too. And I also like the freemium model. Picmonkey is a great example, I think.
Great interview! (love your glasses, btw)
I don’t think this was covered but a huge thing for me is how a shop reports sales. I was very excited awhile back about Big Cartel and some of it’s features and the customization. But the killer for me was the lack (at the time, not sure about the present) of reporting tools. You had to basically just rely on Paypal reports and it was very tedious.I’d love to know how Storenvy handles this aspect.
Thanks for the question. Storenvy gives you full order management and stats within your admin panel. You can see and search all of your orders, mark orders as shipped and even send the customer a customized email message when their order ships. Here are a couple screenshots to show you some detail.
Order list: http://cl.ly/image/1e2m421h1A3Y
Shipping an order: http://cl.ly/image/1E3U0n3c2i3P
This is Lily Liu, the owner of the Raining Sugar shops shown above.
Storenvy definitely allows for more creative outlet! You can customize your store front to almost anything you want it to be 🙂 If anyone stumbles on your storefront it looks as if you’re operating an independent online store, but the seller all the tools of an eCommerce
site that makes selling easy 🙂 You look professional without all the trouble of actually running your own site.
The main difference for me personally between etsy and the (new)storenvy is the amount of interaction and the sense of community. The recently revamped Storenvy is very community driven. I would say it’s a Pinterest with self operating ecommerce system. However that’s both
good and bad simply because if you do not sell the currently “hot”clothing, accessories, and the like, you do not get the traffic. Sales are very popularity driven on storenvy. Many of the search options are
by popularity. So, if you sell well, you will sell even better in the future. If you haven’t make too many sales, you probably won’t either in the future (given you don’t do anything else different). In order
to get traffic on storenvy you really need to work for it. Follow people, make friends, get them to follow you, etc. For someone like me who has a full time job and sewing+ crafting are more of a side project, this is not the place to go to.
As for advertising my stores. I don’t advertise for etsy or storenvy. With that said, etsy hands down brings in more traffic than storenvy. Storenvy was actually doing great for me (with about 30 orders in a
couple of month) prior to the entire system update. Since the update, I’ve maybe gotten one sale in the past month to month and a half. Things definitely slowed down.
Another difference between the two is that Etsy is all handmade (or it should be). Storenvy is not. Many of the “hot picks” and “trending” items can be easily obtained from wholesale sites online such as alibaba and aliexpress for much much cheaper. Storenvy (ever since the update) has become a resell site for cheap Chinese goods. My handmade plush and pattern doesn’t seem to fit in anymore. Since this is what the current community is like, it will only attract more people who
wish are interested in the “trendy” items and I really do not expect a turn around in sales anytime soon.
There are definitely benefits and disadvantages of running stores on multiple sites (I also sell on ebay and bonanza). Selling on more places gets you more traffic! A customer might not be familiar with
etsy, but makes purchases on ebay frequently. Selling in both places makes sure you catch these types of people. The only downsides I can think of running multiple stores is the time it takes to keep up and staying organized. A few times I’ve received an email from a customer, and it took me a good 5 minutes just to figure out what they ordered from which store before I can address their concern.
The second is that when you only have a limited supply or something, you can’t double post in multiple store, just in case it is bought in both places and you only have one to offer. Therefore running multiple stores for one of a kind items doesn’t work too well.
I use Big Cartel and they’ve recently upgraded some of their reporting tools. I don’t know how it compares to Storenvy, but they have a place now where you can check off orders as you ship them. And someone on Big Cartel’s staff worked with me to show me how to run itemized reports on Paypal which – now that I know how to do it – is actually really nice because I can look at Etsy, Craftsy and Big Cartel sales all in one report. For me the big seller on Big Cartel is the integration with Pulley which I LOVE.
I'm glad to hear that Big Cartel has added more reporting tools. That certainly makes their platform more competitive. I'd love to know how to run an itemized report on PayPal. I wonder if Big Cartel could post that on their blog? That's super useful information for anyone selling online. Pulley looks like a great option. Instead of per transaction, Pulley is prices per document stored. For example, I have 24 digital products right now so I would qualify for the lowest pricing plan. I know that Goodsie is also connected to Pulley. Because Etsy is not, CraftHub fills that niche. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with these other services.
I actually see a ton of your products in my feed on Storenvy! LOVE your shop. 🙂